Defarge Does Shakespeare and Hairpin Lace

Mar 27

Image by Caro Sheridan

Image by Caro Sheridan

Unparallel’d, my contribution to Defarge Does Shakespeare, is an excellent introduction to hairpin lace crochet. I used Habu 1/20 silk stainless steel, beads, and a purple cord–the only color fit for a queen like Cleopatra.

Designing the necklace provided me a lovely trip down memory lane. As I wrote the essay to accompany the pattern, I re-read my MA thesis about Antony and Cleopatra and lingered over lines that captivated me 15 years ago…and still do. I especially love this description of Cleopatra:

Enobarbus: ...For her own person,
It beggar’d all description: she did lie
In her pavilion, cloth-of-gold of tissue,
O’erpicturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour’d fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did. (Act II, scene 2)

You can download the digital book today and pre-order a print copy. Take a look at the gorgeous array of pattern from the book. Which do you want to make first?

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Sorta Blind Contour Drawing

Feb 23

Last Tuesday Koosje Koene posted her Draw Tip Tuesday video about blind contour selfies.  Yes, I thought. That’s perfect for a postcard or two! I’ve been making portraits of my ancestors, but the faces are so controlled and overworked. I want to loosen my style, and blind contour selfie drawing? Just the ticket!

But when I sat down, Bic pen and pad of postcards in hand, iPhone with selfie on the table, I couldn’t do it. I froze. I wanted to look at that paper. I forced myself to make a few lines without looking, and then I allowed myself to break the rule about not looking. Because this project is not about constriction. It’s about exploration and developing my growth mindset.

And I discovered something. I love making sorta blind contour drawings! I’ve drawn three selfies and one portrait of Neal. These little line drawings have been a blast, and I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to make one, too. Here’s my method:

sorta blind contour drawings1. Grab pen and paper.

2. Take a selfie, get to a mirror, find a picture, find a live model.

3. Without looking at the paper, get down a few lines. You can tell on my postcards where I started, I’ll bet!

4. When you can’t resist looking, look. And draw. Try to keep the “tone” of the blind lines. Be playful.

5. Go back in to add detail if that makes you happy. I added watercolors to one, lines to enhance my hair in another, and cross hatching on Neal’s sweatshirt.

6. Admire your funny little drawing.

Keep me inspired: tell me what you’ve been doing to encourage your growth mindset.

Want a funny little postcard from me? Read about my #2015PostcardProject and sign up here.

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Ethical Elegance: Knit Good Stuff

Feb 19

Joan I don’t know how many years I’ve been eyeing Nanne Kennedy’s toothy, honest, gorgeously dyed yarn at fiber festivals. Last fall, with my best enabler at my side, I stopped petting the yarn and purchased. I have no regrets. Not one.

My original intention was to use this femme pink yarn for a certain sweater I’ve been lusting after (I’m looking at you, Lorna Suzanne). I decided to be as prissy as I want the sweater to be and swatched, swatched, swatched, only to find I couldn’t get a fabric I liked at a gauge I wanted. I think I’m going to need a bit of Starcroft Light to find the just-right match of honest yarn and pattern for my dreamy, prissy sweater.

So what’s a knitter to do when she’s got a bag full of pink wool this good and a hankering for one of Ellen’s sweaters? She copies her pal Kirsten, and uses the Seacolors yarn for a newish arrival at Chez Odacier: Joan Fuller.

Ellen’s pattern writing is terrific. It’s as though she’s sitting next to me on the porch (in my mind, it is summer, always, and on a porch of one sort or another, always), leaning over to remind me what I should do next.

Still, we all know what a pokey knitter I am. Every day, I stitch another few rows before I go to bed, and I confess: it’s hard to sleep when I’ve just had those plump cables in my hand. Even if I don’t finish the sweater to wear this long, long winter, I’ll be ready for a Maine evening in September!

Gale taught me something: match a good, honest yarn by someone you really like with a terrific pattern from a friend you admire, and you’re bound to be happy. And happiness of this sort is exactly what ethical elegance means to me!

How about you? What’s your favorite yarn-pattern match up?

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Silver Locks Project: Styling Silver

Feb 16

I didn’t grow out my silver locks to be on trend, but there I am, at the hair color cutting edge. I say this in jest. The last thing I am is cutting edge.curls front

I’m fascinated by responses to silver hair–that of models and actresses, as well as my own. Among my friends (including most of you, dear readers), I hear admiration for silver locks. C’mon, tell me Emmylou’s hair isn’t amazing. Yet, as I’ve mentioned in other Silver Locks Project posts, I’ve had people question my transition to silver (only a few, and it bothers me not one whit). “Don’t you feel old?” “Why would you do that?” This idea is reasonable. Most silver-locked folks are older. But the reason silver and age are often equated, I suspect, lies elsewhere.

Here’s the thing. As a girl, I knew not one woman who had longer silver hair. For decades, the trend, at least in my world, seemed to be to short, permed hair once the color changed. And a lot of times, those styles looked less like styles, and more like giving up.

My stylist and I figured out some goals when I started the transition to silver:  to keep my hair healthy and to cut as little as necessary. I refused to take the easier route of cutting it all off. I’d spent years growing out my last pixie, and I didn’t want to do that again. I didn’t want to risk resembling the old silver haired ladies I remembered. But cutting to a short bob was necessary.

Now that all the hair is silver, my focus has been on growing it out. I like to braid my hair, and at last I can manage two little pig-tail braids.

Despite my intentions, though, on most days, I’ve been just like the silver-locked women of my youth, taking the easy route as I scramble to hike dogs and leave for work on time. Most days, my styling is limited to running a comb through it and pulling it into a pony tail. Not the height of style. Not cutting edge at all. More like the edge of giving up.

This week I came back from the edge, at least a wee bit. My stylist coiffed me for a fancy gala evening on Friday. I asked for beehive height. She persuaded me to curls and a side sweep, a style that looked elegant and fun. And she assured me that I could learn to curl my hair in a snap.

I realized it isn’t so much about the style of my silver. There are loads of women rocking silver pixies. This entire musing over edges and giving up is a reminder to myself to stay curious, to keep playing.

Guess what I picked up today? Curlers.

Tell me: what do you do to keep yourself from giving up?

Thinking of going all cutting edge and silver yourself? Check out my Silver Locks Project posts.

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Ethical Elegance: Story of a Shawl

Jan 29

Rifton Often times, it’s the story that gets me. A story from my life, a story of how a garment came to be, a story of the materials.

Here’s the story of my new shawl.

It started in NYC in the halls of the VK Live market place.

No. It started with Ellen’s obsession.

Still further back. It started in Maine, in the cottage, with Amy Lou hooking away on her Wingfeathers, designed by Cal.

The pattern was on my mind. As soon as holiday knitting is finished, I promised myself.

And then I was in Jill Draper’s VK Live booth with Gale, and she picked up a skein of Rifton and said Wingfeathers. You might have felt the world shift a little then. I did. Kirsten felt the pull, and so did Jani, making hers in glorious Starcroft Fog.

We hooked long into the night, at every chance the next day. Hooked in the pop-up shop, and hooked while eating cheese. Hooked on the train, and then, as my semester started, I hooked every moment I didn’t have to work on class prep.

Every inch of Rifton that flowed through my hands delighted me. You can read the yarn’s story here. FOThat’s part of what makes this shawl special to me, knowing the care that went into making the yarn. And part of the shawl’s story is like many hand-crafted garments’ stories: making the same project with a group of folks you really, really like, knowing that the stitches were hooked with laughter and good conversation. And part of the shawl’s story is making a pattern from a designer who embodies ethical elegance and is immensely likable. And part of the shawl’s story is absent friends who’ve been hooking their own shawl in their own corners of the world.

And part of the shawl’s story is just starting to unfold! Oh, the stories it will tell years from now!

Tell me a story, willya? I’d love to hear about a hand crafted item of yours that is rich in story.

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VK Live Recap

Jan 26

VK Live collage

Just after the Fiber College high started to wear off, Kirsten had a good idea: who wants to come to NYC for Vogue Knitting Live? I did, of course!

I took two classes: Scandinavian Colorwork with Mary Jane Mucklestone and Designing Knitted Tessellations with Franklin Habit.

The colorwork class was fun. I learned a new-to-me way of knitting garter stitch in the round, and Mary Jane is a dynamo, full of knowledge and humor. The tessellations class? Well, let’s just say that a number of postcards reflect my recently acquired interest in tessellations. Franklin made math fun. I took a class with him in 2012, and my feelings about his teaching remain the same.

The classes weren’t the only terrific parts of the weekend. There was glorious food, terrific company, and the pop-up shop of the year: I could practically smell the ocean with every skein of Starcroft yarn I held. The yarn is special in so many ways, not the least of which is that Jani’s smart, practical, funny spirit saturates it like the gorgeous colors she dyes.

When my Saturday class ended, Beverly and I hopped down to le pop-up, and what a treat to hang out, get advice on color from Mary Jane and Kirsten, and crochet surrounded by Gale’s photos which are, as always, amazing.

Want to see what I crocheted? I’ll post a new FO later this week!

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NYC Pop Up Yarn!

Jan 12

StarcroftKnitters! Crocheters! If you’re in NYC this week, you’re in for a treat (and, hey, a lot of you will be there because VKLive!)

For the first time, Jani of Starcroft yarn brings her beautiful yarn to the big city. You can find her and the yarn of your dreams at lf8elevate January 13-18, 80 East 7th St., between 1st and 2nd Ave. I’m especially excited to pick up a few skeins of the new DK yarn, Tide.

This isn’t just any pop-up shop, though. C’mon, knitters are involved. Thursday 6-9 p.m. and Saturday 3-6 p.m. drop by for knitting gatherings with Jani and Kay and Gale and all the fabulous people. Gale’s photographs will be available, too…check out more details here.

This morning, I wound a skein of Starcroft’s Nash Island Light. I’ll be swatching for the sweetest sweater, Ellen Mason’s Lorna Suzanne. Yarn and pattern match perfection!

Hope to see you at the pop-up!


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